Expired Character vs Story: Planning Chapter One of Your Next Novel

Many writers worry about where to start their novel. How do you know if the pace is fast enough, or if the reader understands what is going on? There are so many elements to introduce: the setting, the backstory, the protagonist’s brother’s ex-wife (after all, she’ll be important later). Worst of all, it’s possible to end up in a circle of early revision, re-writing chapter two again and again until it feels right. In this session, writing teacher Daniel David Wallace will describe his “character-first approach” to beginning a novel or long story, and will use examples from Great Expectations, The Age of Innocence, Jack Reacher, and Gideon the Ninth to illustrate the technique. He’ll show how a good protagonist begins a novel in opposition to the story’s “real” plot, and how this tension — between the character’s story and the “real plot” — can help you decide when to begin chapter one, when to describe the setting, and when to bring in that brother’s mysterious ex-wife. At the end of the session, Daniel will provide an online writing prompt to help you try out the approach and sketch out your next novel.”

Daniel Wallace completed his PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, where he spent four years researching new ways to teach fiction writing. He is the editor-in-chief for Burlesque Press, the host of the annual “Escape the Plot Forest” writing conference, and his work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Tampa Review, Air Schooner, and Fiction Writers Review. His online classes have led aspiring and experienced authors alike to call him “the novel whisperer” and the “literary midwife.” He is, sadly, not the Daniel Wallace who wrote the novel Big Fish, and nor is he Daniel Wallace M.D., of Boston, whose patients regularly email him requests for medication.

To help maintain social distancing guidelines and ensure the safety of our members and presenters, KWG will be moving our workshops to an online format.
Online KWG Workshops are $30 for non-members, $20 for members and $10 for student members. Log in to take advantage of the reduced rates.
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged and closes at midnight on the Thursday prior to the event to enable our presenters to prepare and send you the login information. Help your presenters plan more effective programs by pre-registering. Check payments must be received by one week before the workshop (Knoxville Writers Guild. P.O. Box 10326 Knoxville TN 37939-0326). 
  • David Wallace
     February 27, 2021
     10:00 am - 12:00 pm


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KWG Zoom Meeting Room

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